College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 54 and 53

54. The Cure, Wild Mood Swings

Many observers thought the Cure might be finished after their 1992 album, Wish, though that was hardly the first time the disintegration of the band was predicted. (There may have been some who would have preferred the band shuffle away for good after the their yucky Judge Dredd theme song.) Those doomsayers forgot Robert Smith’s endless capacity for regenerating his chief creative outlet and eyeliner-streaked cash cow. Wild Mood Swings, the band’s tenth album, was released in the late spring, the precise time frame that worked well for them since 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. This time, the May debut didn’t exactly work the same wonders for them, maybe in part because fairly limp singles were issued from the album, especially problematic at a time when alternative rock radio preferred material that was far more bludgeoning. The diehard fans didn’t care for it and it sold significantly less than the band’s prior few releases. The downswing in popularity stirred more predictions of the the Cure packing it up, which proved to be equally inaccurate.

53. Frank Black, The Cult of Ray

Back before anyone was talking seriously about a Pixies reunion–much less a Pixies reunion being an extremely lucrative proposition–the former Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, who was primarily known as Black Francis, started a respectable solo career as Frank Black. Neither Frank Black nor Teenager of the Year were enormous hits by any measure, but they each boasted at least one single that made headway on commercial radio. The Cult of Ray, Black’s first and only effort for Rick Rubin’s American Recordings, was the first sign that maybe this solo thing might not be the road to prosperous stardom after all. The album title refers to author Ray Bradbury, but there’s no discernible influence or thematic unit that indicates Black was thinking about the great writer for anything other than naming the release. The consensus on The Cult of Ray seems to be that it’s pedestrian, delivering exactly what would be expected of Black at this point in his career, with no real signs of artistic growth or even wanderlust. (And it’s hard to know what to make of a song like “Kicked in the Taco.”) From here, Black rebranded himself as Frank Black and the Catholics for a few albums, utilizing the backing band from this release, at least initially. It would be 2004 before his next album billed solely to him, an album that started the process of reclaiming the Black Francis moniker, all the better to cash in on Pixies reunion interest. And of course Black (or Francis, or whatever) continues to play footsie with the prospect of a new Pixies album, but I’m not sure how any lineup without Kim Deal can responsibly be called the Pixies.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days

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